After years of trying to meditate on my own, I had almost given up. During certain meditation sessions, though, I had managed to sense the existence of a serene place in my mind. It was always just a fleeting glimpse, like something hovering in my peripheral vision only. Meditation didn’t bring me any real relief or peace, but I saw the promise of another way of being. I kept looking.
Tai Chi turned out to be another path to that peaceful place. After just a few weeks of practice, I was hooked. Ten minutes of Tai Chi, even when clumsily practiced by a beginner, seemed to give me a sense of peace. I was stunned at the simplicity and the effectiveness.
It’s hard to define why it works. I usually tell people that practicing a Tai Chi form gives the part of my brain that likes to work on puzzles something to do. That section would normally be ruminating – turning something over and over like a rock tumbler, trying to make a gem. With the puzzle of movement to ponder (foot like this, hand just so, breath in, breath out, bend elbow, step forward, etc.), my busybody brain is happy to let the rest of me…well, rest.
It’s ironic that I had to ‘disconnect’ a piece of myself to get a better mind-body connection, but so be it. Why not throw the dog a bone so you can clean the kitchen cupboards?
Of course, since those early times, the concept of Tai Chi has become much richer and more complex for me. I learn something new almost every day.
Tai Chi is a great tune-up for your whole body and a perfect complement to strength training and/or aerobic exercise programs. It is excellent for improving balance (physical and mental) and leg strength. It is also a wonderful way to continue to exercise through health challenges and while recovering from injuries.
Tai Chi has been widely noted for its positive effects on patients with Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and other ailments. Tai Chi is even being used to help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm excited and proud to pass on such a simple and powerful practice!
On some basic level, though, Tai Chi will always remain my refuge and a sort of ‘emergency plan’ for when things go awry. An escape hatch to the peaceful zone, it’s always there. Right here. :-)
tai chi alternative meditation meditative fitness